Articles and Analysis


South Dakota and Montana Exit Polls and Results

Topics: 2008 , Barack Obama , CNN , Exit Polls , Hillary Clinton , MSNBC

OK..one last time (at least until November). Polls will close in South Dakota at 9:00 p.m. ET and in Montana at 10 p.m. ET. Official exit poll tabulations will appear shortly after the polls close at the following links:

All other comments will be in reverse chronological order. All times Eastern.

10:50 - Signing off for tonight. Back tomorrow morning, gods of Pepco allowing. I hope anyone still checking in will join me in thanking Mark Lindeman for crunching the numbers for us every primary night. Thanks Mark!

10:15 - South Dakota tabulations update: Now showing a slightly narrower Clinton lead, roughly 54% to 46%.

10:10 - The Montana tabulations update: Now showing an estimate of 56% Obama, 39% Clinton.

10:01 - MSNBC and CNN project Obama the winner of Montana. The vote estimate used to weight the exit poll cross-tabs now posted online is 54% Obama, 40% Clinton with the rest to undecided.

9:37 - While I was out in search of electricity, the networks apparently declared Obama the "presumptive nominee" based on his share of delegates in South Dakota. But I'm sure you know that already.

9:21 - Apologies. The wonderful DC weather knocked out our power, adding an extra margin of misery to this last primary night. Mark Lindeman tells us that the initial exit poll tabulations indicate a 55% to 45% estimate in Clinton's favor. And as I type this, MSNBC projects South Dakota for Clinton, (and CNN follows moments later).

8:07 - The AP story teases the honesty ratings of the two candidates in both states the the rough shares who say the would be satisfied with the nomination of both. Nate (Poblano) does some quick modeling of the relationship between these questions and the vote in past primaries. His analysis suggests an comfortable margin for Obama in Montana and a closer result (perhaps) in South Dakota.

About seven in 10 in both states called Obama honest and trustworthy. Nearly as many said that about Clinton in South Dakota but barely half in Montana called her honest and trustworthy.

7:54 - Here are some preliminary vote-result-free teasers from the mid-afternoon wave of exit poll interviews from AP, CNN, MSNBC and Fox (via The Page).



Hi Mark -

Hope you get a little R-n-R time over the next couple of weeks after 5 months of this.



Fox news ticker is reporting 60% of MT men and 50% of MT women for Obama, so the networks will call MT immediately.

Also, they list Obama at 2129 delegates, which suggests that they either factored in all the intended supers, or they factored in the exit poll results.


Mark Lindeman:

55-45 Clinton in SD? (Mark B. seems to be doing something more useful...)



@Mark L.

That's about what I am seeing ... Clinton 53.5- Obama 46.5

Interesting note ... 2% in the exit poll said that they would be dissatisfied if either was nominated ...

24% said they would not be satisfied if Clinton won the nomination. Of those 8% voted FOR Clinton. When you do the math, that's 2% of the voters voted for Clinton - but wouldn't be satisfied if she were the nominee.

Not a big # ... but still a number that shows there is still a little (but nominal) electioneering going on. However, 2% seems within what we might see in other primaries for other offices.


Mark Lindeman:

So, how far off will the ARG poll be? (I would expect the SD exit poll to be relatively close, but who knows?)



I figure a 10 point win. That's still pretty far off for ARG.




stop making Rush Limbaugh feel good. 2% is essentially exit poll measurement error - eg. people hearing the question wrong.


Mark Lindeman:

Thatcher, I don't know if that even counts as electioneering. Some Dems don't much like either Clinton or Obama.

Uri: depending on how many people they interviewed in Montana, a 10-point apparent lead probably won't be enough for the instant call. Not that I have any clue how many people they interviewed in Montana -- it's just fun to fill some time....



Just great ... I share the same birthday at Hillary Clinton's mother. She turns 89 tomorrow. Here's my thought - she wouldn't conceded tonight or tomorrow in honor of her mom's birthday - but look for Thursday.


Mark Lindeman:

OK, that's a bit more than 10, so I don't actually have to eat crow. ;) Looks like 14.



Several offtopic comments on tonight:

1) McCain should have picked a bigger venue. This venue looked like a joke. Also, he should control those creepy smiles.

2) Brilliant choice of slogan though: "Leader we can believe in".

3) That was the most blatant bashing of the Bush agreement that I've seen in a long time. Didn't expect McCain to go this long.
4) McCain made a mistake by taking credit for the policy change in Iraq and its benefits. If things get even worse there (is that even possible?), he's toast.

5) I'm not sure what Hillary is going for, but I have to give her credit for a spectacular political suicide. I waited for a "We will not go silently into the night" from Independence day. It's an interesting strategy for getting the VP spot.

6) HRC did not acknowledge the SD win at all which is sloppy. Obama did.

7) I already filled an entire piece of paper by making a checkmark every time the term "historic night" every time it is said on TV.

8) I find it incredibly pigheaded that Obama listed Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy as "presidents of change", but not LBJ who actually passed the civil rights act which gave him a chance to run in the first place.



Who's gonna jump on the Hillary Party since she seems not to be part of the Democrats anymore?


Mark Lindeman:

Uri, it's lucky that you didn't turn "historic night" into a drinking game, or we might have lost you.

(I think you're wrong about point 6. As per cnn.com, Clinton opened by saying, "Thank you, and thanks so much to South Dakota. You had the last word in this primary season, and it was worth the wait." Call me hyperliteral, but I thought that was an awkward way to open a speech shortly before the polls closed in Montana.)

Thatcher, I was so taken with your idea about why Clinton didn't concede that I came up with my own. Maybe Clinton recognizes that some people suspect Obama would be easily intimidated as a leader, and she is posturing as if she is angling for the VP position so that Obama has an opportunity to gently but firmly decline her services.

(No, I don't think that's likely. But, by golly, that's what would make it so clever!)

According to the exit polls, Montana Democratic voters were pretty evenly divided (50/45) on whether Obama should make Clinton his running mate. South Dakotans were more favorable (58/38). Whatever anyone thinks Clinton should do, whatever motivates what she does, she continues to command the respect of millions of Democrats around the country (of course including many who don't want to see her as vice-president). I'm just saying.



@Mark: Good one :)

You're right about SD, my mistake, I looked at the transcripts now. I was listening to the beginning of HRC's speech on the radio and they must have cut in a few seconds too late, I heard from the "I want to start tonight".

I guess we'll see what folds about the VP. HRC didn't buy any friends last night but she mmight have bought her way into the VP position. Though if I'm Obama and I saw McCain last night, I wouldn't worry about electability.



@Mark L -

I feel yours is more apt a motive behind her not conceding. My thought about "mom's birthday" was from a more caring viewpoint than political. I mean, if I dragged my 88 year old mother around the country, campaigning with me - her talking to people, etc - I wouldn't want my "gift" to her for her birthday that all of her work was for me to concede the night before or the day of her birthday. I'd want to still be "in the race" so that the birthday wasn't tainted with a concession.

Even though I've been in the business for 10 years, I still have some idealism left and a little hope that underneath it all - politicians have some sense of altruism.



Senator Clinton's speech last night was a justifiably proud recitation of her accomplishments over the course of this campaign, but it did not end right. She didn't do what she should have done. As hard and as painful as it might have been, she should have conceded, congratulated, endorsed and committed to Barack Obama. Therefore the next 48 hours are now as important to the future reputation of Hillary Clinton as the last year and a half have been.

I am disappointed. As a long time Hillary Clinton supporter and more importantly, an admirer, I am sad that this historic effort has ended with such a narrow loss for her. There will be the appropriate "if onlys" for a long time to come. If only the staff shakeup happened earlier; if only the planning in caucus states had more focus; if only Hillary had let loose with the authentic human and connecting voice she found in the last three months of the campaign. If only. If only. I have written many times on this site about the talents of Hillary Clinton and why I thought she'd make a great President.

After last night's final primary, she was only about pledged 100 delegates behind him. Ironic that after not wanting to make the decision for so long, it was in fact, the superdelegates who made the decision. But I guess they did so for another reason. It just isn't her time. It is his time. It's a new day that offers a freshness to our party that many have longed for. We felt the rush of new voices and a new energy in the Congressional sweep of 2006 and the sweep continues. It has been an organic shift. And a healthy one.

The life's work of Bill and Hillary Clinton in partnering with so many African Americans uniting our purpose and promoting our mutual issues is as responsible for Barack Obama's success as our first African American nominee as anyone. And yet, that joy is being denied for them by themselves. It is so sad.

So, I am also so very disappointed at how she has handled this last week. I know she is exhausted and she had pledged to finish the primaries and let every state vote before any final action. But by the time she got on that podium last night, she knew it was over and that she had lost. I am sure I was not alone in privately urging the campaign over the last two weeks to use the moment to take her due, pass the torch and cement her grace. She had an opportunity to soar and unite. She had a chance to surprise her party and the nation after the day-long denials about expecting any concession and send Obama off on the campaign trail of the general election with the best possible platform. I wrote before how she had a chance for her "Al Gore moment." And if she had done so, the whole country ALL would be talking today about how great she is and give her her due.

Instead she left her supporters empty, Obama's angry, and party leaders trashing her. She said she was stepping back to think about her options. She is waiting to figure out how she would "use" her 18 million voters.

But not my vote. I will enthusiastically support Barack Obama's campaign. Because I am not a bargaining chip. I am a Democrat.


Mark Lindeman:

Thatcher, I can't figure out a way to work a polling "hook" into this, but -- while I can't quite imagine Hillary Clinton thinking to herself, 'I ought to concede tonight, but I can't do that to my mom,' I'm happy to assume that what she basically meant what she said last night. Her supporters (including her mom) had been with her all the way, and she wanted to stay with them.

People might debate, "Is it altruism or is it arrogance?" But it's arrogant for anyone to think he or she can be president.

So, I really did like your thought. I didn't do it justice by linking it to mine, but the fact is that you got me thinking about a wider range of motives than I had.


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